Volume 77 / Number 40 - March 5 - 11, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Scoopy’s notebook

No Saigon surrender: Wing Lam, founder and eminence grise of a militant labor-rights group that has mounted a series of demonstrations and lawsuits against upscale Asian eateries, says he doesn’t believe that 28 immigrant delivery workers sacked last year by the owner of the Saigon Grill mini-chain will get their jobs back any time soon. This despite a Feb. 20 National Labor Relations Board ruling that Saigon Grill’s owner rehire the workers with full back pay. “He’s dragging it out and still playing the game,” Lam, executive director of Chinese Staff and Workers Association, said of the owner, Simon Nget. The lawyer for Nget, a Chinese-Cambondian immigrant, has expressed plans to appeal the N.L.R.B. ruling. “He thinks he’s above the law. But he’s under obligation to take them back and he’ll pay a lot more” in a court case, Lam predicted. The Chinatown activist was speaking on Sunday during his group’s celebration of the Year of the Rat at 122 Henry St. in Chinatown. One of Nget’s managers noted that delivery service remains suspended at Saigon Grill’s restaurant at 12th St. and University Pl. in the Village and also at their West Side location, at 90th St. and Amsterdam Ave.

C.B. 2 studies schools issue: Village public schools are seriously overcrowded and the district has a dire need for three new school facilities, according to a Feb. 21 resolution that Community Board 2 passed unanimously. The resolution suggested that “excellent sites” in the neighborhood for new school space could be found in the proposed St. Vincent’s Hospital redevelopment project, on Pier 40 at W. Houston St., at the sites of parochial and private schools that become available because of closings, possible development sites in Hudson Square and at 75 Morton St. Brad Hoylman, Community Board 2 chairperson, said on Monday that 75 Morton St., near Greenwich St., which contains state service-agency offices, would be a particularly likely location. “It’s a New York State-owned building in the South Village where the need for a school is great,” Hoylman said. “We’ve taken a leaf from our sister Community Board 1 to the south,” he added, pointing out that the Downtown board was able to get city and state approval last November for a new school on the state-owned site in the southern part of Battery Park City originally designated for a women’s museum. Hoylman on Jan. 17 presided over a meeting where about 200 school advocates along with local elected officials demanded new space for the overcrowded school district. New residential development is booming in the area while the need for schools is ignored. The C.B. 2 resolution that grew out of that meeting said the board would include the issue of school capacity and overcrowding as part of its evaluation of every new residential project that comes before the board for approval. “Until plans for new schools in our community are firmly set, we will view projects that add to school overcrowding as not in the public interest,” the resolution said.

Mack gets sacked: Developer Harry Macklowe recently agreed to pay damages to Noho tenants whose safety and homes were jeopardized several years ago by a project he was building on E. Houston St. between Broadway and Crosby St. The location is now home to a building with an Adidas flagship store in its lower floors. In November 2004, the Macklowe Company began construction on a commercial building located on the former site of a car wash at 610 Broadway. The neighboring building at 620 Broadway is a historic, landmarked residential building with 11 co-ops and a commercial shoe store on the ground floor. Jeopardizing the safety and structural stability of 620 Broadway, Macklowe dug out and removed the foundational support underneath 620 Broadway to accommodate his foundation and a planned underground parking garage. Within weeks of the commencement of Macklowe’s foundation work, 620 began to sink and shift, and the walls, ceilings and floors inside each apartment began to move. The residents of 620 retained Jack Lester to seek a restraining order in court and a stop-work order from the Department of Buildings. As a result of court intervention by Judge Richard Braun, an order was issued to secure No. 620’s structural stability by revising the structural and foundational procedures undertaken by Macklowe. Finally, after lengthy litigation, the consultants and contractors hired by Macklowe compensated the residents and shoe store at 620 Broadway $8 million for the damage they caused. “This case is a classic example of developers believing they can ignore the safety of persons and property in the pursuit of profit,” said Lester. “We are gratified that, due to timely court intervention, nobody was injured and that just compensation was received by the tenants of No. 620.”

Building knowledge about their new building: New School President Bob Kerrey and C.B. 2 will host a 6 p.m. Thurs., March 13, meeting at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th St., to inform the public about The New School’s plans for its new academic building at 65 Fifth Ave. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and the lead architect, Roger Duffy, will present designs for the building at the open meeting, to be followed by a public question and answer session.

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